##With Anima Mundi, Vril departs from his Berghain roots and delievers an introspective exploration for the morning after a night at the club.
If I'm allowed to have favorites, I would claim Vril, the German DJ and Resident Advisor Lieutenant, as mine among his genre, which shouldn't mean anything to the longtime techno connoisseur (who should probably find themselves skipping this review and moving on,) but does lend me to evangelize to those who've been deprived of positive exposure to the culture. Most any electronic music can be transportive and my own affection for it can no doubt be attributed at least in part to my near-total isolation from its community. I have never been to a proper club (the only offering in the setting of my young adulthood has never aspired beyond squishy DJs who are now somehow 100% content describing their scene as "EDM,") and I've only had a few friends with whom I could share significant interest, though their knowledge was extraordinarily extensive.It takes incisive wisdom to cut through "Techno" as the misnomer it has become in today's America - a subject deserving its own, more deliberate discussion - but for the moment, let's consider a single record which manages to exemplify the potential of this historically-niche medium.
For years, I've been one hundred percent sure that "Vril" is a proper noun, but I could very well have gone on living the rest of my life never deciding between whom or where. Up until Anima Mundi's release on October 15th, his catalog was consistently Vril - on-brand, you might say - though in the most respectable sense for a dance DJ, I'd imagine. I can't quite recall the moment of discovery, but I do know that the dozen or so of his live mixes available on Mixcloud caught my attention immediately afterward. There's something magic in the layers that grabs an unnamed rhythmic organ of mine in a way that cannot be expressed in written form without experience I do not have. What I can provide is the most comprehensively concise example I can find: a live set from the infamous Berghain in 2014.
Regardless if I'm writing, cycling hard on the trail, or chasing gravel apexes, these mixes always kick me into another plane, where the panning high hat halos are biased astray by a fraction of a degree, delaying a false local disorientation akin to the sound of a dozen choreographed kindergarten tap dancers' feet next to one's head, mildly duration-compressed. Techno as a whole has become quite comfortable with the practice of orbiting high frequency percussion in elongated ellipses around the stereo picture, which I've adored and defended since day 1. My hypotheses: it's actually a cheap shot for the psyche's potential desire for justification of their culb experience as something transcendent. It's a pretty easy cheat to keep the listener's immediate environment feeling expansive, reflective, and therefore meaningful. I, myself am probably drawn to its threatening aura of imminent contiguous industrial emergency, but again, I've never been to Berghain, London, or Stockholm, nor has my adult nightime recreation ever found me in any venue to which one could attribute the term "club" without immediately breaking into chuckling. This music has not traditionally found its place among lives like mine, and nobody even seems interested in figuring out why.
It seems like there was a big thirst for these kinds of intentions. But the more attention we get, the harder it gets to keep those intentions up and not get washed away by the perception of others. Who are maybe searching for something that sometimes seems impossible to deliver.
For the hell of it, let's begin by removing one of techno's most notoriously-defining categorical descriptors: "dance music." I've done this personally - aside from moderate head-bobbing - but I've already got a bad habit of miscontextuallizing music, so let's focus on our hypothetical technovirgin, Gavin, who thought Bassnecter was amazing in 8th grade, can "sometimes fuck with" run-of-the-mill dubstep, plays college football, and is generally more serious about schoolwork than the trashy campus bars he visits every other weekend out of a vague desire for female attention. Let's have faith in Gavin and assume that he doesn't need perspective-altering narcotics to be introspective, but we'll wait until he's alone in his shitty dorm in the early morning hours, typing out an American History essay on his Macbook. He's in his bed, earbud-equipped noggin propped uncomfortably against the wall, machine resting on his diaphram. It's streaming fucking Aphex Twin from some stranger's Spotify playlist, which we've hacked. Just after "Windowlicker"'s last, foul moan, we'll covertly begin this involuntary acquaintance with "Manium"'s simple fade-in.
It's sincerely serious, contemplative, science fiction-esque, but certainly not even as manic as the tasteless breast-obsessed number one hit he's just heard. In fact, the contrast is so sharp that his attention is agitated away from his sentence, and he looks off the screen across the room to the door's electronic knob. According to whomever wrote Delsin's description of the album, Gavin has just unwittingly set upon "a deep excursion for mind and body" - a phrase which would no doubt make him a bit uncomfortable, yet here, alone, or perhaps in the back seat of the right friend's car on a long drive, its acute caution compels his mind to consider the heaviest possible question of the moment: something about finals, I would guess. His brow slowly scrunches in the Word document's soft white glow. The unchanging dissonance from the background synth's single chord grows louder and louder, gradually, before dropping briskly, allowing for the similar successive fade-in of "Statera Rerum".
Layer number one is surely a four-second sample of a dot matrix printer's operation, slowed and pitched-down thirty or so percent.